Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Land of the Big Problem

The item in the sports page over the weekend caught my eye only because the Astros are (for present purposes anyway) Ryan and Suz's hometown team.   Houston became the first team this season to fire its manager when it bid farewell to Brad Mills on Saturday.  In fairness to Mills, his GM spent the better part of the summer jettisoning all of his actual Major League players.  They shed so many big leaguers in Houston that as of Sunday the average age of the players on the big-league team is almost a year younger than the average age of the players on the club's Triple A affiliate. 

And by the way, for all of your smart New Englanders who had Bobby V in the "Managerial Dead Pool" I hope you are happy now.   Serves you right for siding against the smartest guy in the room - any room - on the subject of baseball.  Find that impossible to believe?  Just ask him.  He will tell you exactly the same thing.

I know not whether Ryan and Suz have gone to any 'Stros games this season.  Candidly, in view of how awful they are and how terrific an offensive player Suz was during her years playing fast-pitch softball, the big league team could probably use her in left field more than they could use her in stands.  I used to delight in taking her to the "fast-pitch" batting cage where the ball came at the hitter at speeds upwards of 70+ miles per hour to watch her rake line drive after line drive from the right-handed batters box, which is her natural side of the plate.  After taking a short break to grab a drink of water or some such thing, she would step into the left-handed box and then proceed to rake a seemingly endless barrage of line shots from that side as well.  Typically she would start the session in splendid anonymity.  By the time she was finished, any number of admiring eyes were upon her.  Me?  I cannot hit a ball from here to the end of this sentence.  I know not from whence she got that stroke but it was sure fun to watch her hit.   If Houston's GM happens to read this, I would hope that he takes my advice and invites her to a tryout.  What the hell does he have to lose?  After their loss on Sunday the Astros were 39-83.  You read that correctly.  They had only 39 wins AND were 44 games under .500.  It is no small accomplishment to pull off that daily double. 

In addition to firing Mills, the Astros also fired their hitting coach and their first base coach.  I wondered - since the first base coach got the old heave-ho - how the third base coach had been spared a similar fate.  However while I was trolling around the Internet on Sunday I learned that the Astros actually got rid of their third-base coach about a month ago.  They crunched the numbers and realized that given the relatively small percentage of the time that any of their players actually made it to second base - let alone third base - the cost of paying a live human being to man the post far outweighed any benefit the club received from his presence there. 

While I have not seen any video of it, according to something I read on-line, the club replaced the coach with a far more cost-effective alternative....


....thus far any drop off vis-a-vis the former 3rd base coach and the present one has, according to Astros management, been negligible.


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